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Bonkers Blog July 2011

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3 July - About time

Long Service MedalThe obscene blogger was right about one thing, it sometimes takes more time than I would like to keep this site going. It was exceptional last week because of the Employment Tribunal but it amounted to more than 50 hours over four days and so I am currently taking it easy and will today nick something from Olly’s website so that I can catch up with domestic chores - well he never asks me when he quotes Bonkers so it’s only fair…

Olly is a nosey blighter who likes to look at what Bexley council has been blowing our money on and he was intrigued by the amount that has been going to a gift supplier in Leicestershire. It turns out that Bexley council has been buying its staff Long Service Awards. I thought that practice had died out years ago. I was a Civil Servant for five or six years after first starting work and if I had stayed there all my life I might have got a Long Service Award. A lady who had worked in the same department since 1937 and left in 1977 (†) was given a Long Service Award and she invited me back to the ceremony. As she was my Aunt I remember it well. She was given a document signed by the head of the department and I think she may have been given a small medal on a ribbon, a bit like one of those chocolate coins you might hang on a Christmas tree and worth not a lot more in monetary terms. Such documents were routinely pinned on lavatory walls, the one at the end of her garden in my Aunt’s case.

When I retired after more than 30 years with a major multi-national company it never occurred to me that a decent level of pay and a reasonable - but not as good as a local authority - pension was not sufficient reward, but apparently it wouldn’t be if you worked for Bexley council. If you manage to do 20 years there without being unfairly dismissed on a trumped up charge or leaving because you can’t stand the dishonesty any more, you are entitled to a present worth £230. If you get to 30 years you get another £330 and after 40 you get another £460 bunged in your direction. As if a (almost unique to public servants) two thirds final salary based pension is not enough in itself. That is why money has been going to the gift company every month.

When I attended my Aunt’s award ceremony back in 1977, it was all over in 15 minutes and we were shuffled out of the boss’s office after quickly downing a cup of tea and a Civil Service biscuit. Not good enough for Bexley council of course. They hired caterers and photographers at more than £1,000 each during May this year with more than £7,000 going on the presents. I think I read somewhere in the Strategy 2014 document that this largesse is due to be cut back or even stopped - and about time too - but note once again how it is not the councillors who are suffering the cuts, it’s the staff. Councillors’ perks, as always, remain untouched.

† The aforesaid lady is doing alright with her Civil Service pension. She is still drawing it and it has inflated to much more than she was earning when she left work 34 years ago.


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